BlogLearning & Development

Learning Experience Design: Ultimate Guide

Terri James
VP of Product

Learning Experience Design (LXD) is the process of creating educational programs that are engaging, effective, and learner-centered. It integrates instructional design, user experience, and educational theory to enhance learning outcomes.

Instructional Design Evaluation Template

Trying to stay up to date with learning and development trends can make your head spin.

Many L&D professionals had to scramble to learn about virtual training during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. Some are still catching up on the principles of gamification. You might be a little unclear on how just-in-time training works.

Let's talk about one of the phrases you've probably seen a lot lately: learning experience design, or LXD. You might be wondering what it means, how it differs from instructional design, and if it's something you should be paying attention to.

We've got you covered. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about LXD, starting with the basics.

What is learning experience design?

According to Niels Floor, learning experience design is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human centered and goal oriented way.

Let's break it down a bit and take a look at three key parts of the definition: learning experiences, human-centered, and goal-oriented.

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Learning experiences

Floor defines LXD as "a personal journey that encompasses all that you do, think, and feel from the moment you enter the experience to the moment you’re done and even beyond."

As you might imagine, this goes beyond the structure of a training course or the difference between online and in-person training.

This personal journey could include,

  • the learner's motivations for learning,
  • the environment in which they learn,
  • interactions with an instructor or other learners,
  • the assessment experience, and
  • the learner's feelings about the training when it's done.

Learning experience involves things like motivation, emotion, and cognition, it requires a broad perspective and a multidisciplinary approach.


What does it mean for LXD to be human-centered? It means that decisions you make during the design process are focused on learners.

You might think that all learning professionals make decisions this way, but this isn't always the case.

Imagine you want to add a course on interpersonal communication. Your first thought might be "Well, online learning has been working well for us so far, and changing how we provide our training would be difficult and expensive, so we'll stick with it."

A learning experience designer might think about it differently and say "Learners will have better outcomes if they can practice interpersonal communication while they're in the room with the people they're communicating with, so an in-person training would be best."

This is a simplified example, but you get the idea.

Learning experience designers understand that people are complex, have many different motivations, and are influenced by emotion.


The learning experience design process starts by establishing goals or training objectives. Those goals and objectives guide the entire design.

An effective goal is driven by a desire for a specific result that's beneficial to the learner and the organization offering the training.

You might think it's sufficient to say that your goal is "to improve your customer service," but a learning experience designer is going to have questions:

  • How do you measure improvement of your customer service? Time spent helping customers? Number of help tickets submitted? Net promoter score?
  • Are you training customer service reps in customer service, or will other types of employees be taking part as well? Who is the target audience of the training?
  • Why are you trying to improve your customer service in the first place?

The answers to these questions will help a designer understand the goal of the training and the results to pursue. Once they have an idea of what your underlying goals are, they can tailor the rest of the design process to create the results you need.

Learning experience design vs. instructional design

At this point, you might be wondering how LXD differs from instructional design. (If you need a refresher on instructional design, be sure to read our guide to the topic.)

It's not a clear cut line, but you can think of learning experience design as generally having a more holistic view of the learning process than instructional design.

Instructional design often focuses on the content being delivered to learners. Instructional designers are great at making training materials as effective as possible in engaging learners and driving learning outcomes.

Learning experience designers think more broadly about the learning process overall, including the design and feel of the learning environment.

Some people describe learning experience design as a combination of user experience and instructional design, which is a good shorthand for differentiating the two.

But many instructional designers use a multidisciplinary approach. And some learning experience designers are very content-focused.

In the end, the two fields have the same goals: to help people learn effectively and organizations achieve positive training results.

How to incorporate principles of learning experience design into your training

Whether you're an instructional designer, a training manager, or another type of learning and development professional, you can use some core principles of LXD in your training.

Here are three steps you can take:

1. Understand the goals of your learning and development

Remember the questions listed above in the section on goal-oriented learning experience design? Start your design process by asking questions like these.

A great way to understand your goals is by asking "Why?" until you get to the core of what you're looking for.

Let's say that you're designing a course on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). You might first come up with the goal of "teaching employees to create positive, inclusive environments."

Now ask yourself why you want employees to create those environments.

Let's say you think about it for a few minutes and come up with the following reason: "We aim to teach employees to create positive, inclusive environments so everyone can do their best work and feel supported."

Ask yourself again – why is this important? Continue this process and you'll see the ultimate goal of your training.

Think about specific outcomes. How will you know that your training has succeeded? Are there specific metrics you can measure among your employees that will tell you if a change has been made? Will you use an assessment to measure learner retention?

Keeping these factors in mind while designing your learning experience isn't easy, but it'll help you stay focused on what's most important to your organization. 

2. Spend time understanding your learners

Learners are complex. They have their own motivations for engaging in learning. They'll have emotional responses to their learning experiences. They may have very different knowledge levels when they start your course.

This is part of what makes human-centered design difficult. But taking it into account from the beginning of your design process means you can tailor your training for your audience, which can improve engagement and retention.

One of the best ways to tailor a training to your learners is to put yourself and your team in their shoes. If you're planning a product training, visualize your group of learners. Are they all new to the product, or will some have extensive experience? Do the learners work with the product every day, or will some be seeing it for the first time? Are the learners required to be in the training, or have they chosen it for themselves?

All of these factors influence what should go into the training and how it should be delivered.

If you have actual user research (surveys, statistics, or other information) on your learners, that's even better. Consider spending time digging into the experiences and motivations of your learners if you have the time and capability.

3. Choose the right platform and delivery method

How your content is presented has a huge effect on the learning experience.

A bloated and confusing learning management system has a big negative impact on your learners. A presenter that's disorganized similarly affects the experience. Almost everyone who's gone through corporate training can give you examples of bad delivery.

Offering an experience that's convenient and easy for your learners lets your content shine. That's where choosing the right platform and delivery method comes in.

A modern learning management system with easy navigation, support for personalized learning, and collaborative features makes for a more positive experience, letting your content and your experts shine.

(If you want to see these features and more in action, schedule a free demo of Continu and we'll show you how an engaging LMS can help you create positive learning experiences.)

And don't forget that you have multiple delivery options. Self-paced, asynchronous trainings are great – but virtual instructor-led trainings have advantages, too. They let learners interact with instructors and each other, emphasize timeliness and importance, and allow for experiences like Q&A sessions and roleplaying.

Think like a learning experience designer

Learning experience design might be a relatively new term, but the ideas behind it have been around for a long time. It just took a while for them to come together under a single umbrella.

The best way to implement learning experience design in your organization is to hire someone trained as a learning experience designer. But you can start taking advantage of LXD right away by keeping three things in mind:

  1. Learning experiences involve everything that learners think, feel, and do from the beginning of the experience to the end and beyond.
  2. A human-centered lens means thinking from the perspective of your learners.
  3. Goal-oriented design starts with a deep understanding of what you're trying to accomplish with your training.

If you can keep those things in mind, you can use LXD principles to craft more engaging, more effective learning and development practices at your organization right away.

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About the Author
Terri James, VP of Product at Continu
Terri James
VP of Product

Terri is the VP of Product at Continu, a modern Learning Management System built to help companies train employees, customers and partners using one platform. For over a decade, Terri has led Continu as a product and is passionate about helping companies build a culture of learning.

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